OIL PAINTING: St Mary Magdalene, 1623-27
St Mary Magdalene, formerly given to Pomarancio, has been reattributed to Simon Vouet. It may perhaps be identifiable with the Magdalene cited with an attribution to Sacchi in the 1648-49 inventory of the Palazzo Barberini at Monterotondo.
The painting by Vouet - St Mary Magdalene , which shows some stylistic and typological connections with the Vouet's David in Palazzo Bianco in Genoa, could date from the years (c. 1623-27) in which the French artist was in close contact with the Barberini, ending with his departure for France. Though the canvas is certainly rich in Caravaggesque qualities, Vouet is already showing himself as a full participant in the new classicism that was on the rise in the Roman art scene. At the same time he also shows signs of sympathy with the first fully baroque works that were being created in Rome.
This painting - St Mary Magdaleneposes interesting problems on account of its close compositional connections to the Magdalene by Guido Reni, dated to 1631-32 (also in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome). The cut of the scene anticipates the composition that Vouet adopted for his Portrait of Gaucher de Chatillon (Louvre, Paris), carried out for the Palace of Cardinal Richelieu between 1633 and 1634. Dominated by the monumental figure of the Magdalene, the picture opens out to a luxuriant perspectival landscape view in the left background. Another highly interesting element is the close stylistic analogy between the Magdalene and Vouet's Allegory of Peace, that was also in the Barberini collection (also in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome). As the Allegory has been attributed to an anonymous brother of the Cavalier Muti (a student of Vouet and Claude Mellan), the similarities between the two pictures lead to basic questions about the true authorship of this extraordinary painting.